009. My Sister's Keeper... Not So Much?
Why don’t black women support each other? I was conversing with a friend the other day
discussing how we need to be more proactive in moving forward in both our professional and personal lives. During this discussion, we decided networking with other like-minded women would be a good place to start. After a few seconds we both began to cringe at the idea of having to unenthusiastically rely on other women as a resource. The more we thought about it the more this idea which seemed like what was a great idea at first, was quickly fading into an idealistic fantasy. Just the idea of black women supporting one another, lifting each other up sounds nice, but let’s be honest…it’s far from reality. A black woman will go to the end of the Earth jumping through hoops to be with a man who is probably not even treating her the right way. So why is it that we do not do the same in support of our sisters? We have a common ancestry, is there something we see in each other that we do not like, which inflicts self-hate? Sometimes I feel like as black women we are our own worst enemies.
“We have such a rich culture as women in this country. And in that culture there are roles, purposes and powers. And we live in a society now where women are demeaned, diminished, and demoralized in ways we accommodate. If we really understood who we are as women, we would really not be so apt to let people define and confine us.” –Iyanla Vanzant
I established Soulstruck Republic as tool to empower all women to be independent, strong, and determined to build a life worth living for all women and their families with hopes she will pay it forward and do the same for others. However, even in my journey through Soulstruck Republic, I have been faced with adversity dealing with other women. There are many people who negate Soulstruck and those who flat out don’t care or believe in what I’m trying to accomplish. I know that. Black women are always trying to make another woman feel bad about something she did or did not do as a woman. Women will make another woman feel bad about having children then turn around and make the next woman feel bad because she doesn’t have children. But I really want to get to the root cause of why it is black women are more likely to tear one another down than support each other? Money alone will not keep you satisfied, any more that external beauty will take away insecurities or being famous will fill a void of loneliness.
I know someone is thinking, why just black women, women in general don’t support each other enough. There may be some truth to that statement, but in my experience in the workplace, I’ve seen white women indiscriminately support one another, even if they do not like each other they will still support each other. They may not care to be around each other but at the end of the day there is a moral code which prompts them to support their white counterparts even when the desire to do so is not present. Even if two black women met as equals in the same professional arena, there would be a clash of class, social status, or sense of entitlement as to why one woman felt the other is unequal to her in some way. Now I know not all black women are reluctant to support other black women, but a significant amount will not. Many black women are cultivated with the mentality there is only room for one at the top. I believe Iyanla Vanzant said it best (see video below for excerpt), “Very often as women we are conditioned to believe if you get yours then there won't be enough for me.” In most cases it is a defense mechanism we use to validate ourselves by disproving the next woman.
We receive so much criticism every day from everyone else in society, including our men, the last thing we need is to walk on one another. We have got to do better! There is more than enough pie for every woman to have a slice! We should be able to unify to support each other, lifting and empowering one another as a support system, and teaching our daughters to do the same. Do the work for yourself. Don’t wait for the next woman to be supportive towards you. As Gandhi would say BE THE CHANGE. Take initiative to spark an evolution of change. No longer will I dwell on the desire to have a female support system, I will be that system to someone else. Don’t be that woman who allows her sister to drown, reach out your hand and help your sister out. There is a woman out there who could benefit from your smile, a hug, and even a prayer.